Indy’s Great Steakhouses: Morton’s The Steakhouse

The Dark Horse

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So what if this is the type of place your dad would love? That’s not a knock, though you might want to bring him—and his wallet—to this subterranean treasure. Buried in the basement of the IBJ Building at the corner of Pennsylvania and Washington streets, this dignified “corporate-owned restaurant” (which started in Chicago in 1978) will put a dent in both your credit-card statement and your beef craving with classic offerings and a by-the-book approach.

Slide into one of the dimly lit booths (don’t even bother trying to photograph your food in the smartphone-unfriendly twilight), and you’ll be in good hands with one of the staff’s learned servers. Ours led us through an inventory of appetizers laden with the standards (shrimp Alexander, crabcakes, and escargot), but we pointed to the broiled sea scallops. Our server nodded approvingly, and we weren’t sorry. Wrapped in salty bacon, the three scallops—fresh, tender, and perfectly cooked—were served with an apricot chutney on the side, which offered a pleasant jab of sweet heat. If you’re going for greens, skip the Caesar and try the chopped spinach salad, wilted, warmed, and studded with bacon.

The standard steaks—we had a filet and the seasonal bone-in Prime Manhattan—were tight and bright (the meat is aged 4 to 6 weeks), though they could have used another pinch of salt and grind of pepper. We might have been better served had we added one of their many traditional embellishments. But the Cajun ribeye came with verve. The succulent 16-ounce cut, which had been marinated 24 to 36 hours, was capped with a charred crust, and its interior was a warm crimson. Like the others we tried, the taste was on target, but the Cajun seasoning added a flirty snap of cayenne that made us blush—just a bit.

Sure, Morton’s has a little salt and pepper at the temples; the decor feels dated, and the vibe seems measured. But we consider the place distinguished. 41 E. Washington St., 317-229-4700, mortons.com

Price per ounce of the small filet: $6.83

Largest steak on the menu: 48-ounce porterhouse

Grade of meat: USDA Prime

Aging process: Wet

Wines by the bottle/glass: 200+/35

Valet: $7

Most-famous customer: Rob Lowe

 

We love steak, any way you slice it. In Indianapolis, there’s a steakhouse to cater to every occasion and level of sophistication, and after months of dining like wealthy cavemen, we present them to you here, in juicy detail. A la cartes include a primer on the king cuts (for those who don’t know a porterhouse from a portobello), tips on the best cheap chops in town, a cattle call of beefy terms, and a stab at defining that common condition among steak-lovers—the meat sweats. You want a piece of this? Dig in.

 

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